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EPB is delivering the nation's fastest consumer internet connection by the end of the year -- a 1 Gbps service.

Only a few cities worldwide -- like Hong Kong -- have 1 gbps connections.  (Source:

Small-scale socialized internet offerings have been trampling the rates and service of commercial competitors like Comcast. These competitors have responded by trying to outlaw municipal Wi-Fi.  (Source: Comcast)
Socialized municipal offering handily beats out local commercial competitors

Despite the criticism of mild socialism -- including government-owned utilities -- thus far commercial cable offerings in the U.S. have fallen grossly short of successful municipal offerings.  Services like the municipal effort of Wilson, N.C. have offered faster, cheaper internet than commercial offerings.  Cable companies have responded by pouring millions into lobbying local, state, and federal governments to enact proposals to ban municipal internet services.  To date, they have seemed unable to stamp out this pesky brand of community socialism.

Now Chattanooga, Tennessee is preparing to launch a new municipal service which will offer speeds up to an incredible 1 Gbps.  The service, to be deployed by the end of the year, will be the fastest household internet connection available in America today.

Ron Littlefield, the city’s mayor, cheers, "This makes Chattanooga — a midsized city in the South — one of the leading cities in the world in its digital capabilities."

The service will be managed by city-owned utility EPB.  It will join just a handful of consumer 1 Gbps offerings worldwide, including the fastest connections in the city of Hong Kong.  The service is almost 200 times faster than the average U.S. broadband speed according to analysts.

There are some downsides of the super-fast service.  One is the ability to fully utilize the ultra-wide line.  While transmission speeds are somewhat dependent on what speed the downstream party can receive data at, they are also dependent on how fast upstream parties can serve the data at.  So while you may be able to get a 25 GB Blu-Ray movie in about three and a half minutes, in theory, few data providers will be able to serve the movie that fast.

Another obstacle is the price – a whopping $350 a month.  While the city is also offering more affordable bundles that should beat the rates of competitive commercial offerings, its top-tier option is undeniably pricey.  At that rate it may appeal more to businesses than the majority of individual buyers.

Comments Harold DePriest, chief executive of EPB, "We don’t know how to price a gig.  We’re experimenting. We’ll learn."

The new service will reach 170,000 homes and businesses in the area and help add a bit more bang to citizens' buck, in a region that 
Forbes magazine already rates as one of "America's Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cities.

If President Obama has his way, a national socialized internet offering will also soon arrive.  The President's FCC appointees are pushing plans to cover 100 million homes with 100 Mbps by 2020.  That connection would be one-tenth the speed of Chattanooga's. 

Despite the sluggish performance of cable giants like Comcast and Time Warner, some commercial players are also looking to deploy high-speed offerings.  Google announced plans to cover up to 500,000 people with 1 Gbps internet.  The service received 1,100 applications from communities and Google will announce its pick(s) by the end of the year.

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Stupid waste of money
By Homerboy on 9/14/2010 10:53:56 AM , Rating: 0
As the article points out, no service is going to allow you to pull down at anywhere NEAR the 1GBps. Not to mention your HDD couldn't keep up.

For $250/month you have to be stupid to get this. Gov't subsidized too? Lordy... Highspeed home connections are not a right of the people.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By Chapbass on 9/14/2010 11:24:10 AM , Rating: 2
How about multiple users to multiple sites? I wouldn't mind this one bit at home. Wouldn't mind the charge either, especially to get away from capped internet :\

RE: Stupid waste of money
By icrf on 9/14/2010 11:34:13 AM , Rating: 5
I live in Chattanooga, and how the network was funded is probably different from what you're envisioning. EPB is first and foremost an electric power company. To better monitor usage (including skipping meter readers) and better locate outages, they needed to install a communication network. They already had ROW to everywhere in the county, so laying fiber had minimal regulation problems (the same as any local incumbent, like Comcast and AT&T). The only government grant was a federal grant for the actual smart meters.

Once they get to the point of running fiber to every electricity customer, it wasn't a huge leap to offer end users other services over that fiber. The entire fiber build-out and all internet/phone/video was funded with bonds (again, the same as any company could do).

The only thing that makes this internet build-out sound socialized is the fact that as a city-owned company, they don't have short-term profits to worry about. If they think they can make more money off the network than they'll have to pay by the time the bonds mature, then it's a simple business decision. The fact that the city owns EPB may make the bonds issued by EPB safer, too.

In the end, if electricity monitoring and internet share the same fiber, surely they share some of the costs. I don't know how the "one subsidizes the other" argument is resolved.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By inighthawki on 9/14/2010 11:35:35 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you're forgetting that an internet connection is not limited to a single computer and a single hard drive in said computer. Just because you yourself cant use 1gbps on your own doesn't mean that 5 computers in the house cant. What if several people wanted to stream an hd movie all at the same time?

RE: Stupid waste of money
By Stan11003 on 9/14/2010 11:37:06 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe your wimpy HDD can't hold up to 1Gbps but my SSD can. Although it would be full in few minutes, note to self: invest in large array of SSD drives with savings from buying a home in Chattanooga.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By Lord 666 on 9/14/2010 1:34:17 PM , Rating: 2
Just drove through TN actually and was pleasantly surprised with how advanced it is down there. Almost like an up and coming RTP.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By Silver2k7 on 9/21/2010 11:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
"Maybe your wimpy HDD can't hold up to 1Gbps but my SSD can. Although it would be full in few minutes"

lol so a small thing thats full in a few min isn't wimpy too :)

Wish the that the 1TB SSD's would become affoardable like max 2x a 1TB HDD..

Btw 1Gbps have been avalible in Stockholm for a few years IIRC.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By XtremeM3 on 9/14/2010 1:18:37 PM , Rating: 5
Not all B's are created equal. Bandwidth is measured in bits(little b). 8 bits make a byte(big B). So 1Gbps is roughly 125MBps, which is not hard for a decent HDD to keep up with, let alone an SSD and/or multiple machines.

While the question of which service would allow you to reach that actual rate, give optimal latency to even come close to line rate, is a valid one(multiple TCP connections FTW) - the goal is to keep yourself from becoming the bottleneck. If you want to d/l music/movies from iTunes, while streaming some HD from Netflix, while someone else is watching Hulu Plus, upload some pictures/video to your facebook, while d/ling some games/updates/maps on XBL, and playing a game on PSN - you can and without any of those services taking a hit due to your resident connection being the bottleneck. Is that a little much? Sure. Its it every household that will do it? No - so they get a cheaper plan. But it's nice to have the option.

The more bandwidth available the more services will appear that use network connectivity. And the better those services will be. Embrace new and better things, don't knock it because it doesn't apply to you. I would love a 1Gbps resident connection, but I can't justify the current cost for what I do at home. But their other plans have very appealing price points as well. Especially with the symmetrical up/down speeds.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By bjacobson on 9/16/2010 8:54:52 AM , Rating: 2
but we do that already on our 2mBps pipe from Comcast combined with simple QoS router management on our end. We don't need a city-provide $350/month pipe to do that.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By XtremeM3 on 9/17/2010 2:06:56 PM , Rating: 2
Unless that isn't a typo and you have a 2mBps line(16Mbps) - Not multiple HD streams you aren't:

QoS works great when properly configured, but it ain't magic :) It can only ensure you have x amount of the original bandwidth. You're still having to carve up those allocations between 2Mbps.

I tried downgrading to a 3Mbps offering recently to save some $, but it drove me insane. By myself, I could stream Netflix in HD, but you add something else into the mix and bam, my quality got downgraded due to my available bandwidth changing. Especially if it was another device in our house trying to stream from Netflix.

RE: Stupid waste of money
By eggman on 9/14/2010 3:51:50 PM , Rating: 2
EPB is a non profit organization setup by the city in 1935 to supply electricity. It also supplies phone, TV and other internet services. This 1 Gig is primarily intended to be a carrot to lure high tech businesses to the city.

As a side note, Chattanooga is a great town. We visit often. It is a great music town, free outside concerts, a very large yearly 9 day music festival. It has a few brewpubs, nice restaurants and uses its riverfront and downtown make it very prosperous.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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